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Parole board could help reduce crime, says county councillor

Government says cost will be $600,000 a year
kemmere 1
Al Kemmere is the RMA president and county councillor. RMA has consistently expressed concerns regarding the impacts that repeat offenders have on police services and the justice system in Alberta. File photo/MVP Staff

MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY – The proposed Alberta Parole Board (APB) could play a role in reducing rural crime, including in this region, says Mountain View County councillor and Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) president Al Kemmere.

The UCP government announced last week that it intends to pass legislation (Bill 18) to create the APB.

“I think we are seeing it as a possible solution to deal with what I’ll call the revolving door or catch-and-release that we seem to have had under the present system,” said Kemmere.

“To have a more localized approach to dealing with the parole situation I believe is an effort to try and deal with those challenges.

“The parole system needs to be dealt with so we are not releasing those habitual offenders. RMA has consistently expressed concerns regarding the impacts that repeat offenders have on police services and the justice system in Alberta.”

The RMA represents 69 rural municipalities, including Red Deer and Mountain View counties.

When put in place, the APB would determine parole or early release eligibility for persons serving sentences of less than two years in provincial correction facilities.

The Parole Board of Canada currently makes those decisions under contracts with the provincial government.

The APB would also supervise parolees through community probation officers and provincial correctional case workers.

The APB would cost about $600,000 a year to operate, officials said.

“Albertans expect, and deserve, a faster, fairer and more responsible justice systems that holds criminals responsible,” said Premier Jason Kenney.

Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Doug Schweitzer says the APB would “help end the ‘revolving door’ justice system and will be much more in touch with the current realities facing law-abiding Albertans who are frustrated with a justice system that does not make them feel secure and protected.”

Kathleen Granley, official Opposition justice critic, questions whether the APB would actually lead to less crime.

“I am skeptical of the UCP’s claims that a provincial parole board will help the problem of rural crime,” said Granley. “In fact, without proper resources to support parolees, the UCP could actually make the situation worse.

“This comes after downloading the cost of rural policing onto families living in rural Alberta and cancelling benefits to victims of violent crime.”

The RMA expects the province to provide adequate resources to help re-integrate inmates back into society, said Kemmere.

“Anytime we can do our part to try and make it better for those that are coming back into society is a good investment,” said Kemmere.